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Third-graders create keepsakes for senior citizens

Third grade students from Woodlands West Elementary School painted portraits residents from Sunrise Assisted Living Gurnee. Glenn Yost 92 joked

Third grade students from Woodlands West Elementary School painted portraits of residents from the Sunrise Assisted Living in Gurnee. Glenn Yost, 92, joked that “I didn’t give her much to work with,” referring to student Peyton Zastrow's portrait of him. “She did a good job of reproducing it. That’s not easy to do,” said Yost, adding that the gift made him feel good. | Frank Abderholden/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 19, 2014 4:21AM



It was a portrait of holiday spirit.

Third-graders from Woodland Elementary West (School District 50) used pictures of residents from the Sunrise Assisted Living facility, 500 N. Hunt Club Road, Gurnee, to paint portraits, and on Wednesday, the 50 Gurnee students delivered them en mass as Christmas presents.

“It makes you feel alive that someone is thinking of you,” said resident Rosalie “Mandy” Seibel.

“That’s exactly why we did this,” said art teacher Marion Beram, who organized the event with Mady Kaleel, events coordinator of the home, when she heard Seibel’s remark.

“We don’t want to be forgotten,” said Seibel. The residents won’t soon forget the visit.

The children sang songs and then had to seek out the residents whose portraits they painted.

“My portrait wanted to give me $20,” said Shannon Mahoney, who painted Ken Mayer. She had to turn down the tip, but the spirit of the event had taken hold.

“It makes me feel like giving more,” she said, adding that the painting was hard, but Mayer was wearing a solid blue shirt so that made it easier.

Student Sam Cusumano handed over his portrait of Bob McCann, 81, while his wife, Juliette, received one from student Gitane Napier. “I hope you like your portrait,” said Cusumano.

“I think I look better here,” Bob said of the portrait. “I dyed my hair gray for this,” he joked. He then shook the young man’s hand.

“I was happy to make one for the residents,” said Cusumano.

Juliette leaned over to give Napier a kiss. She liked the portrait, “It’s lovely.”

“You can’t beat kids. They are so full of energy,” said McCann, who has grandchildren that she loves seeing.

Napier said she had fun doing the portrait. “I was happy to see her enjoy my gift. It felt good,” she said.

Glenn Yost, 92, joked that “I didn’t give her much to work with,” referring to student Peyton Zastrow. “She did a good job of reproducing it. That’s not easy to do,” said Yost, adding that the gift made him feel good. Zastrow likes to draw and was happy to do it.

“It was neat. It was a great surprise,” said Zastrow.

Art teacher Beram said the students were thrilled with the project and some had worked on their portraits for a month. “I think it was very exciting for them to come here and present their gift around the holidays,” she said.

The purpose of this project is for students to understand the power of making and giving keepsakes to people in their community who are less fortunate than themselves,” she said.

Kaleel said it was great working with the school and she thinks the residents really enjoyed it. “We really appreciated you coming to do this. It was awfully fun,” she said, adding that she hoped it coud become an annual event.

Resident Seibel stood near the door as the students filed back out to the bus.

“I wish I was your age,” she said told them, “Thanks for caring!”



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